On the methodological strategy of immersion for accelerated learning in university English
RESEARCH PAPER

 

On the methodological strategy of immersion for accelerated learning in university English

Acerca de la estrategia metodológica de inmersión para el aprendizaje acelerado del inglés universitario

 

Dinorah Sánchez Morales1*
Norma Melitina Nodarse González1
Pedro Bernal Díaz1
José Mata Loy2

 

1"Marta Abreu" Central University of Las Villas. Villa Clara. Cuba.
2Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences Cuba.

 

*Author for the correspondence. E-mail: dsmorales@uclv.cu

 

 


ABSTRACT

The university is transformed and requires a comprehensive training of different models of professionals according to their time. The English language is a fundamental element of that change; today a greater linguistic preparation of the teachers of higher education is required. It is the purpose of the authors to socialize on a methodological strategy of immersion for the accelerated learning of the English language, which is part of a research project that is being applied at "Marta Abreu" Central University of Las Villas. In its conformation the theoretical bases for a new strategy of improvement at this level of education are assumed, which increases the quality of the comprehensive training of the professionals. In its researching design, of parallel convergence, the quantitative and qualitative methods, techniques and instruments correspond to the current approaches of social and humanistic sciences.

MeSH: strategies; learning; education.


RESUMEN

La universidad se transforma y exige una formación integral de los diferentes modelos de profesionales en consonancia con su tiempo. El idioma inglés constituye un elemento fundamental de ese cambio; hoy se exige una mayor preparación idiomática de los docentes de la educación superior. Es propósito de los autores socializar sobre una estrategia metodológica de inmersión para el aprendizaje acelerado del idioma inglés, la cual forma parte de un proyecto de investigación que se está aplicando en la Universidad Central "Marta Abreu" de las Villas. En su conformación se asumen las bases teóricas para una nueva estrategia de perfeccionamiento en este nivel de enseñanza, lo cual aumenta la calidad de la formación integral de los profesionales. En su diseño investigativo, de convergencia paralela, los métodos, técnicas e instrumentos cuantitativos y cualitativos responden a los enfoques actuales de las ciencias sociales y humanísticas.

DeSC: estrategia; aprendizaje; educación.


 

 

Submitted:
Accepted:

 

 

At present, with the change in the curriculum and the demands of the new English policy in higher education, it is evident that the university processes are constantly changing in view of the growing scientific and technological development that requires a comprehensive training of different models of professional according to their time, and in this sense the English language is also a fundamental element of this change, which requires a greater linguistic preparation of higher education professors to meet this challenge.

The linking of the accelerated teaching-learning process, the linguistic immersion and the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages(1) as support for the preparation of university professors facilitates their rapid preparation, which allows strengthening the curricular strategy of the English language in the Cuban university. The aforementioned elements were taken into consideration by the authors to elaborate their research project: "Methodological strategy of immersion for the accelerated learning of the English language for teachers of higher education".

The accelerated teaching-learning process is defined as: "... the didactic rearrangement from the integration of the psychological, spatial and temporal dimension, taking as a central axis the psychological dimension in terms of diminishing the barriers that negatively influence the learning process in the adult, shortening the mental processes in the learning of the language, diminishing the spaces for the achievement of the cognitive transfers, optimizing the sensory activity through the constant enrichment of the space, strengthening the social interaction student-student and teacher-student, and selecting the functions for the communicational performance of the foreign language".(2)

According to the analyzed bibliography on "The acceleration of language learning in professional adults" it´s assumed what is proposed by different authors, referenced by Sánchez Morales(2) in terms of the incidence of barriers that have a negative influence on the accelerated learning in adults: physiological and psychological , which are explained below:

  • In the Physiological aspect, the most well-known hypothesis of this debate is that of the Critical Period. In his thesis, Szilvia Popp summarizes: "The physiological aspect of the debate was initiated by Pendfield (Pendfield and Roberts, 1959) who stated that `after 10, 12 or 14 years the connections of the cerebral cortex are consolidated and they can never be modified". Lenneberg extended the Pendfield hypothesis on clinical grounds: "The process of lateralization that occurs during the first years of life reduces the potential for language learning, due to the impossibility of reorganizing the structures established in the brain".
  • The psychological aspect is fundamental in the teaching treatment of adults. The psychological barrier is given by what specialists call "the crisis of middle age", the vulnerability of the adult to the situation of learning and the belief related to the idea that the fact of being old is a limiting factor that excludes learning.

 

So as to achieve an accelerated learning it´s important to know the components of our intelligence and knowing how to combine them in an intelligent manner depending on the learning level, either theoretical, practical, knowledge widening or knew knowledge acquisition.

On the other hand, linguistic immersion is understood as the program of teaching a second language in which some of the subjects of the school curriculum (or all of them) are studied in a language other than the mother tongue.(3) The authors consider that the aforementioned methodological strategy of immersion based on linguistic immersion, the accelerated learning and the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages provides a feasible alternative for a university center. The linguistic immersion is the intensive exposure to a foreign language, by contacting the student for several hours with the language he wants to master, even if he is not in a community that has it as its mother tongue. In this research, immersion is conceptualized based on Cuban reality and the demands of the new policy in this language.

There is a close relation between linguistic immersion and bilingualism. Bilingualism is characterized by the alternation of two languages. The problem arises when it´s needed to define up to what point the bilingual person has a competence in one of the languages.(4)

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: learning, teaching, assessment (MCERL in Spanish or CEFR, in English) is a European standard, it´s also used in other countries, which measures the level of oral and written comprehension and expression in a certain language. It adopts an action-oriented approach that goes back to the theoretical proposals of language philosophers, such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and other sociolinguists such as Dell Hymes in the 1950s and 1960s. It provides a common basis for the development of language programs, curricular guidelines, exams, manuals and the appropriate aids for teachers to reflect on their own practice, in order to ensure that they meet the needs of their students.(1)

The Ministry of Higher Education in Cuba adopts the CEFR as the basis of the national policy for the teaching of the English language in relation to the design of standards, English language courses, teaching methodologies, didactic materials and assessment instruments.(1)

The international research project endorsed by the British embassy in Havana: "Methodological strategy of immersion for the accelerated learning of the English language for teachers of higher education"; it´s been implemented at "Marta Abreu" Central University of Las Villas and other higher education institutions, it assumes a mixed approach. This makes it possible to combine the use of both qualitative and quantitative data lines. Researching methods, techniques and instruments match with the most current approaches in the social and humanistic sciences. The results obtained will be observed in the following spheres:

 

  • Scientific results: the planned results, as well as the products derived from the researches, contribute to the improvement of the English language in the teachers and students of the different faculties of "Marta Abreu" Central University of Las Villas.
  • Economic: given by the results that comprise a book, software, web page and all the aids as a result of the investigation.
  • Social: the proficiency of the English language in professors and university students and the presentation of the results which contribute to the socialization of these investigations in the territory.
  • Environmental: the proposed results are conceived to cope with nature and they are always oriented to promote the care of the environment, through the integration between culture and environment.

 

The planned scientific results contribute to the improvement of the English language in the professors of the Cuban university. It's required to prepare the teachers so that they can strengthen teaching in their specialties with the use of this language. According to what Allen Steve(5) states the use of updated methods and techniques are required to achieve this objective in the professors.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES

1. Jiménez CC. El Marco Europeo Común de Referencia para las Lenguas y la comprensión teórica del conocimiento del lenguaje: exploración de una normatividad flexible para emprender acciones educativas. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; 2011.

2. Sánchez Morales D. Estrategia didáctica para el perfeccionamiento del proceso de enseñanza-aprendizaje del idioma inglés en los cursos básicos para profesionales de la salud [tesis de doctorado]. Santa Clara: Instituto Superior de Ciencias Pedagógicas "Félix Varela"; 2008.

3. Asensio Pastor MI. La literatura en el proceso de inmersión lingüística por parte de alumnos inmigrantes. Revista Fuentes. 2016. 18(2):197-208.

4. Gardner S. Global English and bilingual education. London: Routledge; 2012.

5. Allen Steve. Aprende como Einstein: Memoriza más, enfócate mejor y lee efectivamente para aprender cualquier cosa: Las mejores técnicas de aprendizaje acelerado y lectura efectiva para pensar como un genio. EU: Editorial: Create Space; 2017.

 

 

Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

 

 

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